Never thought I would start blogging again.
I start something, get bored, delete it and later on decide that I wanna do it again. It’s probably a blog life crisis – if there’s such a thing. Nonetheless, I am writing again.
First time travelling. Why Japan? If your going to ask me where I would like to go? I would answer South Korea without hesitation. It might be because of my love for their culture, their patriotism and respect for their history and competitiveness and probably a lot more reasons. However, flights were expensive so I have to choose another place that might be a good replacement for Korea. That time I had no real idea what to expect in Japan. When we booked the flight, I just did a google search of Osaka and Universal Studios and a bunch of other placed popped up and I was “There’s so much to explore”. Okay. Let’s go to Osaka. And boy, I wasn’t disappointed…not a single time.
It was the end of summer and autumn was at its beginning. Leaves were starting to change colors, weather started to get cooler. In short, it was a good time to travel. Some might argue that, “No, Kansai is best at November when autumn is at its peak”. But if you do not like to join a big crowd in November and the colder weather, I think late September is a good time.
Welcome to Kansai! We arrived at Kansai International Airport (KIX) late at night. Just after we boarded-off the plan, I can feel that I am already in Japan. Very friendly people, we took the tram from the boarding area to the Immigration. Queueing at the Immigration didn’t took so long maybe because it’s already late. When we got our passports stamped we headed to the JR West office to buy our ICOCA + Haruka Express round trip ticket worth 4060 yen. According to my research, it is pretty good value considering we won’t get much from a 7-days JR pass. The ICOCA is a reloadable card (eliminates falling in line to get train tickets) and it’s preloaded with 1500 yen plus the round trip ticket thru JR Haruka. Accounting it, we saved I think around 2000+ yen.
We took the JR Haruka Express going to Kyoto and get-off at Tennoji Station. We used the Haruka Express ticket we bought along with the ICOCA. From Tennoji Station, we changed platform to catch the subway Tanimachi line going to Temmabashi. Temmabashi station was our home base for our week long trip in Kansai. I think it was a strategic location considering Temmabashi houses the Tanimachi Line which provides access to the whole Osaka Municipal Subway and the Keihan Line which can bring us in Kyoto.
Day 1: Universal Studios Japan. We took three transfers going from Temmabashi to Universal Studios. You know the feeling of waiting to get your picture taken from the Universal Studios globe because you want the word “Universal” is captured. When we arrived, we bought our tickets which cost around 6980 yen. Again, queue is not pretty bad. You just have to choose which line moves faster. We went on a Monday since there are more people on a weekend and the day after is a holiday in Japan means there would be a lot of people that would go. USJ is pretty jam packed lately because of the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you are not aware of Harry Potter, oh well you are missing a whole lot of your childhood.
After buying our tickets, we went inside and straight to get our timed-entry tickets to Wizarding World. They had this timed-entry to limit the people going in because every one would want to go inside. We arrived at 10am in USJ and the timed-entry ticket we got is around 6:30 in the evening. Considering it was still fairly early in the morning (USJ opens at 9am), there’s really a lot of people wanting to go inside Wizarding World.
I haven’t been to any Universal Studios and this was my first time going so I cannot really compare it to any of the other theme parks. I think USJ is pretty awesome, I like how the buildings are structured, the architecture looks exquisitely planned and I was pretty amazed. I thought I am transported into a different place with Japanese characters everywhere.
You will be able to notice how Japanese are crazy of dressing up. Their fashion is incredible, I felt like I was under-dressed. We spent the whole day before going inside WWHOP roaming around USJ and going to rides. Apparently, even we went on a Monday, the lines were still long. From 10am to 5pm, we were only able to go to 3 attractions, The Space Fantasy, The Amazing Spiderman and Sesame Street 3D. I think we spent a whole lot of our time falling in line where I felt my legs has gained some abs from the workout of standing. Haha.
And of course, the highlight of our USJ trip was the magically enchanting Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We were able to ride the Forbidden Journey which was beyond amazing. I can’t describe how much I enjoyed it.. for you to have it experience yourself and you will know. I didn’t screamed out of horror but screamed out of happiness during the ride. I didn’t even bother with the queue for it was like another trip itself inside the Hogwarts Castle. While, the Flight of the Hippogriff was a bit par from the Forbidden Journey but it was still nice feeling the cold weather of Osaka while having the view of Hogwarts in front of us.We were also able to try the butterbeer and did shopping around Hogsmeade. Every thing inside was so nice I felt like I have to break Gringotts. Haha.
Even if the timed-entry ticket says the we were only allowed to stay for an hour, we spent our whole night until closing inside the Wizarding World. I still don’t want to leave at 10pm but we were so tired and it’s already closing time so I had no choice but to bid farewell to this magical world of Harry Potter. I certainly would like to go back.
Tip: Since everyone will be on their way home from Universal Studios, the train station would be full and good thing if you have the ICOCA card, you don’t have to fall in line to buy tickets.
The whole day seemed not enough to explore Universal Studios Japan. If you went early, you can still purchase the Express pass which will be able to let you skip the long lines and ride as much as you can. There’s also other attractions like the One Piece show but it was already sold out. For more USJ pics. Visit my Flickr page. More Japan posts soon.